U.N. inspectors visit Iranian site linked to nuclear program

DUBAI Sun Dec 8, 2013 6:42pm EST

A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 km (120 miles) southwest of Tehran January 15, 2011. REUTERS/ISNA/Hamid Forootan

A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 km (120 miles) southwest of Tehran January 15, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/ISNA/Hamid Forootan

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DUBAI (Reuters) - U.N. inspectors visited an Iranian plant on Sunday linked to a planned heavy-water reactor that could yield nuclear bomb fuel, taking up an initial offer by Tehran to open its disputed nuclear program to greater scrutiny.

The increased transparency is the result of a thaw in relations between Iran and the West that culminated in a deal struck last month under which Tehran is to curb its nuclear program in return for some easing of sanctions.

It was the first time in more than two years that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been allowed to go to the Arak heavy water production plant, which is designed to supply a research reactor under construction nearby.

Iran's heavy water work is a big concern for the West because it could be used in the process of making a nuclear bomb. Tehran says its program is for peaceful purposes.

Two inspectors arrived in Tehran on Saturday and met experts from Iran's own atomic energy agency before travelling to Arak in the evening, Iran's ISNA news agency reported.

"The inspection is under way and will be finished this afternoon, and they (the inspectors) will return to Tehran," said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Iranian atomic energy agency. "The inspectors will go back to Vienna tonight."

The inspection is part of a deal between the IAEA and Tehran, separate from the November 24 interim nuclear accord reached between Iran and the so-called P5+1 in Geneva.

Officials from Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia are to meet on December 9-10 in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, for expert-level talks on implementing the Geneva deal.

Top Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi said negotiations at the foreign minister level would resume after January 2014, according to ISNA.

There is a "strong possibility" that the timing of another inspection, of the Gachin uranium mine in southern Iran, will also be discussed in Vienna this week, Kamalvandi told ISNA. The IAEA says it wants to visit Gchine to get a better understanding of Iran's nuclear program.

U.S. officials have said Washington might press Iran to dismantle part of the unfinished Arak nuclear reactor, but Kamalvandi said Tehran would not entertain such a demand.

"We won't accept getting into discussions about such issues. Iranian officials have repeated their stance over and over again: Iran's nuclear rights are non-negotiable," he said.

(Reporting by Isabel Coles; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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Comments (10)
Chumsky wrote:
Unfortunately, there will always be those who won’t believe anything other than their own assumptions. Sometimes they will be right, sometimes they will be wrong, but all of the time they will be disbelievers.
If a black cat walked into a room and they expected a white one, they would paint it white rather than admit they were wrong….

Dec 08, 2013 8:10am EST  --  Report as abuse
JamesChirico wrote:
The one place that can produce the plutonium triggers for an airborne nuclear bomb in Iran is their heavy water reactor in Arak. There is no way to disguise the heat signature from the cooling towers at a nuclear reactor.

Israel has already made test bomber runs over the Mediterranean to have the ability to take out this reactor. The heavy water reactor destroyed by them in Iraq ended their nuclear bomb aspirations, same holds true for this reactor at Arak. Iran’s bomb aspirations end with a single smart bomb going down the tower.

For all the fear of Iran getting the bomb, former centcomm commander Adm. Fallon put it out bluntly stating that Iran was not as strong as it claimed, “Not militarily, economically or politically.” and he referred to Iranians as ants, “These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them.” This went against the neocon theme of an Iranian threat and Dubya asked for his resignation.

Dec 08, 2013 8:12am EST  --  Report as abuse
DanaJ wrote:
While it it true that the Arak reactor can produce plutonium, this needs to be extracted in a special reprocessing facility, which Iran does not currently have, nor has plans to build.
Iran has already said that they will send out the fuel rods from this plant to Russia for reprocessing and the removal of the plutonium, thus they will NOT have that for making a bomb.
Any attack on this site by Israel is a violation of international law, and should be sanctioned by the U.N. Security council as such.

Dec 08, 2013 8:41am EST  --  Report as abuse
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